Mobility exercises recommended by physiotherapist Laura Haime

Experiencing some stiffness in your legs? It’s often a reminder of the journey we’ve been on and the wisdom we’ve gained along the way – a rite of passage for all of us! But if you find that it’s actually getting in the way of everyday tasks that require some mobility, you could perhaps benefit from adding some mobility exercises to your day. 

To learn more about mobility exercises, which ones are best, and how to incorporate them into a daily routine, we asked a pro. Her name is Laura Haime, and she’s a physiotherapist at APM Workcare. 

She offered five of her best mobility solution exercises that anyone can do at home, and added her tips for prioritising joint and health mobility. 

The importance of mobility exercises for seniors

It’s a reality we all must face, with age comes the natural loss of flexibility and mobility. 

According to Age Concern New Zealand, “you may lose some flexibility in your muscles and tendons, or your joints may get stiff from arthritis or lack of use. It is important to stretch and use your muscles to keep your flexibility.”

To do this, Health New Zealand recommends starting off slowly and building up to doing physical activity five days per week for at least 30 minutes per day if the activity is of moderate intensity. If it’s of vigorous intensity, you can aim for 15 minutes per day. 

Of course, it’s best to consult your physio or health practitioner before starting any kind of training regimen to ensure it’s safe for your body. 

How to prioritise joint health and mobility

With so many demands on our daily lives, it can be a challenge to make joint health a priority. 

We turned to Laura for advice. 

“There are many things you can do to prioritise joint health. From a physiotherapist's point of view, the main thing to do is stay active! Believe it or not, movement will have a significant impact on any pain or discomfort you may have. You have likely heard of the phrase “if you don’t move it, you lose it” and this is true for your joint health too! When we stop moving, we notice an increase in pain and discomfort. This is why moving within your comfortable range is so important. If you can go for a walk, go for a walk, if you can play tennis, play tennis, if you can do some seated or lying exercises, do them! Anything you can do that gets your body moving will keep you mobile for as long as possible.”

5 recommended exercises

Laura has provided these five exercises with simple instructions on how to do each one. 

But as an extra for experts (or beginners), she also recommends the Live Stronger website as a great resource for seniors. In particular, she says their Super Seven exercises are a great starting place for gentle home workouts

Even with all her experience and professional knowledge, Laura still strongly advises that anyone sees a physiotherapist or health practitioner in person before getting started to ensure these exercises are safe for you to do. 


This exercise has been proven in many studies to be one of the best thing you can do to maintain your mobility and independence as you age.

Single leg stand

This one can be tricky to do. Ensure you are close to a chair or kitchen bench for safety, see how long you can hold for.

Heel and toe raises

Strengthen the muscles of the front and back of your lower leg, really important for balance and walking.

Heel-toe stand or walk

Stand next to a stable surface and place one foot in front of the other. If safe, you can try walking heel-toe around your kitchen or table, holding on to a stable surface as needed.

Marching on the spot

You can sit or stand for this – hold on to a stable surface as needed, and lift your knees as high as you can!

How to incorporate these exercises into your daily routine

It’s all well and good talking about the importance of getting exercise and suggesting mobility exercises. The hard part is usually making a habit of them. 

Fortunately, Laura has a few fabulous tips for us there, too. 

Link your exercise to an existing routine

One of the most effective tips Laura gives to her patients is to link their exercise to something they do each day. “If you want to do these exercises three times a day, do them before or after each meal. Do you brush your teeth every day? Practice some exercises while you brush! Do them before you get in bed for the night – link them to something you do each day and the habit will form quickly.”

Buddy up

Do you have a grandchild that visits regularly, or a spouse or friend who could do with some exercise too? Laura suggests partnering up and giving them a go together. “We are social beings and doing exercise with others often gives us a greater sense of joy from them.” This is also a great way to stay social!

Remember the reason

One of the best tips to keep yourself motivated is to remember why you started. “When you know what the exercise is for and how it is benefitting you, you are more likely to actually do it! If you aren’t sure, please visit your local physio and they should be able to give you some education, as well as provide a more specific exercise program designed especially for you.” 

Start your exercises today

The best time to start exercising was yesterday. The second-best time is today (with a doctor’s thumbs up, of course). 

So pick one of Laura’s five great exercises and get started on improving your mobility. 

While you’re looking after your joint health, perhaps you can think about protecting your family should the worst occur.

Explore our Seniors Term Life Insurance to learn more about our levels of cover, and what’s right for you.

Disclaimer: This article is an opinion only, provided for general information purposes and should not be relied upon as personal advice. You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care professional before starting any fitness program to determine if it is right for your needs.

Laura Haime

Laura Haime (BHSc Physiotherapy) has experience treating neurological conditions, including stroke and spinal injuries, and musculoskeletal injuries such as sprains and sports injuries. She enjoys working with clients of all ages, from babies to older adults, in community and clinic settings.